AH Tech Talk: While Nokia Pleads for Smaller Bonus, Elop Claims he Needs the $25 Million for his Divorce

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A breaking story in the largest Finnish paper, Helsingin Sanomat, said that Nokia and the citizens of Finland are pleading with outgoing CEO Stephen Elop to take a smaller bonus to help quiet the uproar of protest taking place in Finland.  Apparently, Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman of the Board at Nokia has had personal discussions with Elop concerning that he either cancel or reduce his $25 million bonus. The bonus, considered quite high in Finland, is about average compensation for the U.S. and Finland's International competitors.

Elop and Microsoft

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Stephen Elop has traveled around the corporate world, from director of consulting for Lotus Development Corporation in the early nineties to Boston Chicken (filed for bankruptcy) to Macromedia until they were bought out by Adobe.  He finally landed at Microsoft from 2008 until 2010 where he ended up head of the Business Division, which was responsible for the launch of Microsoft Office 2010.

In September 2010 Nokia announced that Elop would take over as CEO, replacing Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, and would become the first non-Finnish director in Nokia's history.  In March 2011 Nokia announced that it had paid Elop a $6 million signing bonus as "compensation for lost income from his prior employer," this on top of his $1.4 million annual salary.

Elop and Nokia

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Elop made several decisions that may have led to Nokia's failure to turn itself around in the mobile phone world.  Nokia had long used the Symbian OS, which once ruled the cellphone world when they only had BlackBerry to contend with, but then Apple launched its revolutionary (at the time) iPhone in 2007, which change the world from using candy bar or clamshell cell phones to a full touchscreen smartphone.  Then a little green guy, Android came along and once again changed the way we view our smartphones and is now the largest selling platform in the world.

Instead of adopting the Android platform for Nokia, he went back to his former employer, Microsoft, and instead chose the Windows Phone OS, which was, and still is, barely making a dent in the smartphone world.  Even though Nokia had experimented with an Android based Nokia phone, Elop would not make the switch to producing both phones, in fact, he had signed a "convenient" agreement with Microsoft to produce Windows phones that ran through 2014.

Before that deadline, however, in September 2013, Microsoft announced that it would purchase Nokia's Devices and Services for $7.2 billion, Elop would "step down" as CEO of Nokia, and then was "conveniently" hired by Microsoft as their Head of Devices team.

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Elop at New Years Eve

Rumors had been spreading that Elop and his wife, Nancy, were headed toward a divorce, especially when he showed up last December at the Independence Day celebration (shown above) without his wife.  Now with an outraged country on its hands, Nokia is trying to reduce the amount of the $25 million bonus, as cries of deception swirl around.  However, with Elop in the middle of a complicated divorce, he says he cannot accept less compensation because his wife would not agree to it.

The Finnish media has generally sided with Nokia, but with rumors that Siilasmaa may have misrepresented Elop's original signing agreement have the citizens and news media clamoring for the truth.  Couple that with Elop and his Microsoft "connection," of pushing Nokia to work with his former employer selling only Windows Phones, and then selling out to them and receiving a nice big job back at Microsoft, and now we have a divorce thrown into the mix – this is more than the Finnish people and media are used to.  It will be interesting to see how the Nokia bonus to Elop and his divorce play out in this unscrupulous business world.

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